Here is a listing of Andi’s friends. Click the links (when applicable) to read more about each character and any recent updates in their lives as the series progress. Let me know in the comments if I’m missing anyone.
Richard Cory Blake I met Cory my first day of school, when he dropped a dead fly on my desk. We became good friends, especially after Riley left the ranch. Read more >>
Rosa Garduno is my best friend. She lives and works on the Circle C ranch with her family. They live in their own little cabin about a quarter mile away from the house. Read more >>
Jennifer Grant (Jenny) has auburn hair and brown eyes. She is the only girl in a logging family from Washington Territory. I met her at Miss Whitaker’s Academy. Read more >>
Marcella Walker (Macy) is the most unlikely friend I’ve ever had. She blew into my life and out again in the course of only a few months. But she made an impression. Read more >>
Sadie Hollister became my ranch friend after Riley left the Circle C. Sadie is a hillbilly girl who lives just beyond the ranch borders. She’s never gone to school. Read more >>
Jack Goodwin has been an on-and-off friend of mine since my early school days. His father owns the mercantile in town and he and Cory are best friends. Read more >>
Lin Mei comes from Canton, China. As a little girl of only five years old, she was sold by her gambling father in China to a woman, who brought her to the United States and sold her as a slave to Feng Chee, the cook at Miss Whitaker’s Academy for Young Ladies in San Francisco. She can’t remember much of her life back in China. She only knows that her father owed a lot of money to a gambling den. Lin Mei cried and shrieked; her mother cried too, but the old woman bought her and put her on a boat to America.
I guess the old woman promised Lin Mei’s parents that she would have a much better life in the Golden Mountain (America). Instead, the little girl became a mui tsai which translates “little sister,” but really means a slave. I met Lin Mei while attending school in the winter of 1881. She was a kitchen servant, and I had no idea she was a slave! The Chinese man in charge of the school’s kitchen was passing her off as his niece. Fearing that Lin Mei might be sold again, my roommate Jenny and I helped rescue her. The little girl now lives at the Mission Home for girls on Sacramento Street, where she is safe at last.
Juan Carlos de la Vega is the stable hand at Miss Whitaker’s Academy. I met him during the first day of my ill-fated enrollment in Miss Whitaker’s Academy for Young Ladies in San Francisco. I didn’t want to be there at all, but when Aunt Rebecca told me the school had a few horses, I decided to make the best of it. I went to check the stables, and this very nice young man was worried sick over a mare about to foal. I stayed and helped, and we became friends . . . sort of. Juan told me we couldn’t be real friends because I was a student at the school and he was only a lowly stable boy.
It’s sad, because his grandfather was a don, a Spanish landowner with wealth and power, back in the days when the Spanish ruled California. But the Americans managed to take over his family’s holding, his father and grandfather died, and now it’s up to Juan Carlos to work hard to support his mother and younger siblings in the City. Juan remembers happier days on his grandfather’s hacienda, but those times are over for him for good.
Juan Carlos is an excellent horseman and teaches me a few things about riding that I didn’t know. He shows himself to be a good friend when Jenny and I need help with a risky plan to rescue our little friend Lin Mei from her cruel uncle, who is really her master.
Circle C Stepping Stones Friends
Henry Jackson is small for his 8 years. And hungry. His parents died last winter of influenza, and he went to live with his aunt and uncle in Jefferson City, Missouri. They are farmers, and Henry had to help out by riding around on the draft plow horse, which he didn’t like doing at all. When Coleman’s circus came through town, Henry ran away and joined up as the candy vendor’s helper. (Andi Under the Big Top) His job is to sell peanuts, ice-cold lemonade, and candy. But he doesn’t get to keep what he earns by selling these things. He has to turn all his money over to the concessionaire, Tucker.
Henry has been with the circus 4 months, and each mile takes him farther and farther away from home. He figured out this circus ideas was not all fun and games two weeks into it. At first, Tucker was nice to him, but once the circus got far enough away so Henry could not run back home, things changed. He has learned a lot about the performers, and he can even walk the tightrope. But he will never be part of the act. His “boss,” Tucker, keeps a close rein on the little boy. It’s his good fortune when the Carter family (especially Andi) take an interest in his well-being.
Other circus characters, not friends of mine! Miss Minnie Mae is the “champion female bareback rider of the world.” At least that’s what the circus posters say. She usually rides a pair of matched palomino horses, leaping them through flaming circles and impressing me to the point that I wish I could be in the circus with Taffy and ride around for everybody to see me.
I’m really surprised when Miss Minnie Mae rides one palomino and one snow-white horse for the performance. Come to find out, the matched palomino horse has died. The circus is on the lookout for another perfectly matched palomino. I’d ridden Taffy and sat on her during the circus parade, and Miss Mae waved to me. Miss Minnie Mae is only 18 years old, but she told me she’s been riding circus horses all her life. I wonder what it’s like to grow up in the circus. I reckon I’ll never know.
Truckee is the candy vendor (called a concessionaire today). He is one mean fellow. He bosses Henry around all the time, and Henry confesses that Truckee has even hit him.
Louis Tate (Loony Lou) is an old hermit/mountain man who lives way up in the Sierras. He has lived by himself for years, and he likes it that way. To keep his privacy, he has taken great care to let the rumors go unchecked about what a crazy fellow he is. He figures that keeps people away. He took a shot at Vince Hollister years ago, and ever since then the “Loony Lou” tales have grown until the man appears scarier than he really is. Vince came back with horrifying stories of a “Bear Man” with a huge black bear cub and forbade his children from going anywhere near those spooky woods. Vince Hollister has a tendency to be a superstitious man.
Deep inside, Louis Tate is a decent man who wears a bear skin to stay warm and simply prefers to be left alone. He was married at one time, but his wife and two children died of the fever when he was young. After he lost his family, he lived in Fresno County but eventually headed up in the hills. He very rarely comes to town, but when he does, he buys coffee and ammunition with gold. Nobody is brave enough to trespass into Lou’s domain and find gold, however. Whatever gold he finds, he keeps the source a secret. He became a good friend and helped me out years later with an orphan cougar cub who needed a home.
Brody Stanton is 8 years old and a city boy from the get-go. He lives next door with his father and mother, the maid, the gardener, and the cook, and with his special cat Cleopatra, his pride and joy. He has met Melinda and likes her well enough, but she’s not the type of playmate he would like. When Andi comes along, he’s extra excited.
Brody does not go to public school. Instead, his parents have hired a tutor for him. He’s stuck in the house all morning, but is allowed a few hours of play in the afternoons. He has never climbed a tree, but he knows how to take the street car downtown. The driver also lets him drive their carriage to church on Sundays.
Brody is an only child, but he doesn’t mind. He likes his tutor (even though he doesn’t much like sitting still all day in his schoolroom), and his father and mother take him many places in San Francisco. He’s been to New York City too, and next summer they will all go to Europe for his 9th birthday. His family is very well-to-do.